Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's time for Pokémon to evolve

Yeah, I felt like a bit of a jerk for not writing anything, so here ya go. Thought this up as I fell asleep last night.

I've loved the Pokémon games ever since I saw a friend playing it on the playground so many years ago. I loved exploring the Pokémon world, catching the Pokémon, fighting the gym leaders, beating the Elite Four, and generally just living the Pokémon life. After playing Yellow Version for a while, I got Gold, then Crystal, followed by Ruby, Leafgreen, and Diamond. I had quite a bit of fun in each of these games. Looking back, though, all of these games, although different, were still fundamentally the same. Ten years later, I'm still fighting gym leaders, challenging the Elite Four, and fighting some sort of evil (Yet inept) association. Little has been added to the series, and I think it's about time things change.

First off, I'm getting tired of the same old plot each and every time. It's always a ten year-old boy/girl embarking on a big journey to become the best Pokémon trainer, blah blah blah. Can't we think of something better? Maybe a game were the protagonist is a teenager, leaving home to prove himself? Say the young man is tired of living in his older brother's shadow, and he sets out to make a name for himself. Sure, there's still the basic formula of gym battles and Elite Four challenges, but at least it's a different plot. Also, wouldn't it be cool if the Elite Four Champion turned out to be the player's jerky older brother? That would make for an interesting "final battle" atmosphere, with the big brother constantly taunting his sibling throughout the match.

Second, how about we try something different with the evil corporation that always seems to lie just below the surface? How about some sort of truly evil group that kidnaps trainers and steals their Pokémon, then demands ransom for the trainer's return? A truly malevolent organization would add a whole new angle to the series, with both the police and groups of trainers fighting back against them. Heck, the player could even join one of these groups, fighting the corporation in team-vs-team matches spread throughout the existing "be the best" plot. Just a little something to add some spice to the general monotony.

Third, I think Pokémon needs some sort of new gameplay mechanic. Not something minor and passive like the Pokétch from Diamond and Pearl or contests from Ruby and Sapphire. I mean something that affects and enhances the core gameplay. As for what exactly the new mechanic should be, I'm not sure. Just something, anything to change up the quickly-becoming-stale gameplay of Pokémon.

As I said at the beginning of the article, some progress has been made on improving the franchise. A few new game elements have been introduced over the years, and even new story elements have made their debut. Still, though, it's not enough to mask the fact that this series has been much the same ever since it first appeared on the Game Boy. I'll be picking up Platinum for sure, but unless the next game introduces something truly new and exciting, I'm not sure if I'll be continuing my quest as a Pokémon trainer.

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